Bothaville - South Africa’s grain farmers can certainly
produce sufficient food for the country. On the other hand, political rhetoric
and generalisations about the agricultural sector must end.
This was articulated by Louw Steytler, newly elected chair of
Grain SA and a farmer from Lückhoff in the Free State.
He says that neither consumers nor government appreciate the
fact that South Africa, unlike many other countries, is not faced with food
insecurity. In recent years farmers have had relatively good harvests and the
country is self-sustaining.
Droughts and other forces of nature could however quickly
change the situation and then thousands of tonnes of basic foodstuffs will need
to be imported, as has happened before.
The situation needs to be discussed with government and the
dangers highlighted. Steytler nevertheless believes that the grain farmers are
able to produce sufficient food.
The agricultural sector has in recent times been singled out
for unacceptable rhetoric and generalisations, whereas a non-racial democratic
dispensation needs to be developed, says Steytler.
If an agriculturist transgresses the law, he should be tried
and punished. The entire agricultural sector should not then been tried from a
political platform. “We will convey message on to government very clearly,” he
Relations between the agricultural sector and government are
also soured by comments that farmers are unwilling to participate in land
reform. There is evidence to the contrary and remarks such as these cause
frustration in the commercial agricultural sector, he says.
He believes that the voice of reason in organised
agriculture - both economically and constitutionally - is coming from people in
government circles. He hopes to meet and befriend those individuals.
With reference to Grain SA’s involvement in transformation,
Steytler says the assistance being offered to emerging farmers speaks for
itself. There are few, if any, other agricultural organisations that do as much
to support emerging farmers.
Government needs to clearly instruct its support base to
participate in the processes of organised agriculture.
To the grain farmers he said that every generation blames
the previous one for what it inherits. “I am convinced that we have the
capacity and skills to make a difference and leave our children a better South
For more business news in Afrikaans, go to Sake24.com.